Lesson 23: Energy Patterns: Circles

Lesson 23: Energy Patterns Part 1. Circles

One of the fundamental expressions of nature, honored in sacred geometry, are  concentric circles radiating out from a center point. Drop a stone into a pond and watch how the wave train keeps extending on and on from the point of contact. Water is a images-10wonderful medium for wave transition, and the human body is essentially 70% water. Recognize that, with every heart beat, waves radiate out from the heart, through your body, and on into the world around you. The heart produces a sound wave (try listening through a stethoscope!)

As the key to our somatic explorations require sensitivity in all three spatial dimensions, we can imagine concentric circles rippling out along the three major planes of the body (by rotating the surface of the pond). If we are standing, the first plane, the transverse, divides upper and lower, as if we were standing in the pond with water at heart level. Or, we can imagine floating in the pond and the circles Planes of the Bodyextend out in a plane dividing front to back, the coronal plane. Finally, we can be on our sides the saggital plane dividing right and left, and follow the circles this way. Try this is any of your favorite poses. Let the concentric circles do the work.

On a larger scale we find the sun as the center of more concentric (almost) circles. If  you are in a cosmic mood, feel that from the earth, there are circles in toward the sun, out out to mars and beyond. The planets orbiting makes the energy imagespatterns more complex. This is of course subtle, especially for such a dense species as the modern human. But it is a glimpse of possibilities ready to awaken. If you are ready to go galactic, find the spiraling images-13energies of the Milky Way, our home base here in the larger cosmos. This will wake up some memories.

Speaking of awakening, the concentric circles and interwoven circles play a major role in the archetypal seed of life, flower of life and fruit of life images-3symbols. In the seed of life to the left, we find a center circle which becomes the intersection point of six more circles of the same radius, each tangent to the next outer concentric circle. The flower of life adds a third circle, continuing the pattern of overlapping circles of the same radius.

Embedded in the ‘Flower of Life’ is the ‘Fruit of images-4Life’ which gives birth to Metatrons’ Cube, which, expanded into three dimensions, gives birth to the five Platonic solids and the star tetrahedron (a stellated version of the octahedron).

images-6images-11Finding these in the poses requires
a bit of imagination in the beginning as we visualize each vertex as a point of light and see how the soma, the living matrix of the body, responds. What is evoked? What opens? What confusion appears?


images-7Find the interwoven triangles, squares and pentagons. Some poses may be more revealing, especially sitting, or restorative postures where you can rest quietly for some time. It is a treasure hunt.

More Circles!

Like tree rings, our spinal discs have annular rings. In healthy discs, these rings are strong, dynamic and allow a circular flow of energy.

The nucleus pulposis, the sphere of gel like substance in the center takes on a spherical shape. When unhealthy, the sphere flatten and the rings can crack open like checking in wood. Because the discs sit right next to

the spinal canal, the gel like substance can leak out into the surrounding spaces and put pressure on the spinal nerves. Herniation describes a weakness in the annular rings and bulging out of the whole disc into the nerve space. A rupture is when the annular rings breaks open and the nucleus pulposis pour into the area of the nerve roots. Keep your spine long through breath, imagination, and healthy connection to gravity. Keep your discs vibrant through intelligent use of hip and sacro-illiac joints. Discovery of the power of the radiant energies to strengthen the discs and sustain lightness through the nucleus pulposis. The original spine, the primitive noto-chord is found in the line through the disc centers. Open it to the light. Keep practicing. Stay awake. Open heart!

We have been exploring concentric circles in nature and now we will look at them in a form near and dear to all of us, sphincters. According to freedictionary.com, a sphincter is: A ringlike muscle that normally maintains constriction of a body passage or orifice and that relaxes as required by normal physiological functioning.

Wisegeek.com adds:  “A sphincter is a ring of muscle which holds any kind of biological opening closed. Sphincters are an important part of almost any system in a body. They help to both regulate the exit, entrance and circulation of fluids, gasses, and solids. Sphincters help blood to move through a circulatory system and bile and nutrients to go through the digestive systems. They also assist in the voiding of wastes.”

There are as many as 50 different sphincters inside the human body. Some are external, such as the mouth, and others are microscopically internal, such as the ones in capillaries. A sphincter in the eye controls the contracting and widening of the iris when it is exposed to light, and there are sphincters which help control the flow of pancreatic juices.

Some sphincters are under voluntary control, while others are involuntary. These sphincters are differentiated by being controlled by two different types of nerves, the somatic, or voluntary, and the autonomic, or involuntary. An example of an involuntary sphincter is the Ileocecal sphincter. Also known as the Ileocecal valve, it closes off the the small intestine so that food that has not been fully broken down won’t pass into the next stage of digestion. The rectum has both a voluntary and an involuntary sphincter—the first moves wastes through the tract, while the second allows control over bowel movements.

In the digestive track we have a long convoluted tube with both longitudinal muscle fibers and ring-like circular fibers and it is these muscular rings that we will focus on. In healthy peristalsis, the wavelike muscular contractions of the intestine or other tubular structure that propel the contents onward by alternate contraction and relaxation, the rings oscillate between expanding/opening and condensing/closing. Sphincters are like one-way gates that open to allow material to pass through and then close to prevent back-flow.

In a healthy body the rhythm of peristalsis depends upon the demands of the moment. When sympathetic activity like exercise or stress dominates, peristaltic motility decreases, the sphincters contract and secretion of enzymes decreases. When relaxing parasympathetic activity dominates, there is an increase in motility, a relaxing of the sphincters and an increase in secretions. A healthy organism transitions smoothly back and forth across the whole spectrum of possibilities, widening and narrowing, expanding and condensing. The relationship between skeletal muscle and smooth muscle is alert and respectful, like yin and yang.

Is it possible, in a yoga posture, to have the inherent motility, the rhythmic oscillation between expanding and condensing of the rings in the digestive track, be the primary source of information and support? What would it feel like if the whole digestive system were in synchrony with posture and movement? In forward bending poses, there is the obvious tendency, if we are not attentive to collapse onto the GI tract and restrict the organs altogether. In backbending poses, if we are not careful and alert,  instead of relaxing and opening the GI tract even further to open the pose, the tendency is to go sympathetic, contract the outer spinal muscles, and constrict GI motility. In twits, ride the rings around an a circle, remembering to always have a seed of clockwise balancing counterclockwise movements, and vice versa. Find the peristaltic rhythm. Feel it from mouth to anus and everywhere in between. Find the sphincters. Stay in at least three dimensions. Add tone where needed, relax tone where there is excess. Then let the muscles and bones find flow and harmony within and without.

Good luck![/two_third]


Beginning: Related Links
1. Developing Mindful Awareness
2. Attending to the Breath
3. Orienting to Grounding and Lightness


Recent Posts

Micro-Cosmic Orbit: Pt 2

Exploring and Embodying Three Dimensions

In the previous post we explored the micro-cosmic orbit as a means to refine our focal attention (samadhi) through bringing our attention to specific points along the orbit and linking these points into lines, arcs and circles. As we work more deeply this way, we may discover that we can find these points at three levels. The first is out beyond the confines of the skin, in an ‘orbit’ in the energy field around the body. The second is directly on the skin, where an acupuncturist or shiatsu practitioner would apply needles or pressure. The third is in the interior of the body along the planes of fascia interwoven through the organs, blood vessels and nerves. When we can feel all three of these levels simultaneously, we are inhabiting our spherical energy field and can begin to fully realize the possibilities of having three dimensional/spatial sensitivity, perception and consciousness.

images-5The girdle vessel (Dai Mai,) the fourth vessel we use, is a latitude line and is essential in finding our three dimensional perceptual field. This yang vessel pairs with the yin ‘thrusting vessel, the vertical center axis, creating horizontal stability, and allowing us to rotate/twist. Rotation inherently builds the third dimension of depth ( A circle has length and width. To create a sphere you add depth. ) and is the gateway to cosmic awareness as well as a more vibrant embodied presence.

Rotation drives the whole manifest universe. In our solar system, the planets spiral around milky_waythe sun. In our Milky Way galaxy, the stars, including our sun, spiral around a center (probably a giant black hole! If you can find Sagittarius in the night sky, and you will probably have to wait until next summer, look through and imagine 26,000 light years off in the distance.) The earth rotates on its own axis creating weather patterns as well as a sense of day and night.

The spinning top (one of the oldest toys known to humans, found in archeological sites all over the world) demonstrates the cosmic principle in physics we are embodying. The faster it rotates, the more stable the vertical line. When the top slows down it starts to wobble and when it stops spinning, it falls over. To keep the rotation, you need to keep feeding it with energy. The bicycle uses this same principle, flipped 90 degrees. Another aspect we explore is the radius of the horizontal circle. Rotation pushes from the center outward (yang) in what is called centrifugal force. As this is counterbalanced by theGM2434B-1 yin centripetal (center seeking) force, we can change the volume of the energy field by playing with this ‘expanding – condensing’, yang – yin relationship.

In this top, the widest circle with the most outward thrust, the purple one, is below the center of the vertical axis. Lowering the center of gravity adds even more stability, which is why we emphasize the lower dantien in our breathing, movement and meditation practice. When we discover how to work with this principle in the energy field, our twisting poses can actually help expand the body. If we work muscularly, you will feel constricting in twisting poses.

SBK_1711254-24Traditionally the ‘dai mai’ girdle vessel surrounds the body at the level of the pelvis in the lower dantien. but we can move our attention to awaken other ‘latitudes’ of the body. To begin in the feet, stand with the right foot forward, the left foot back, as if you are about to move into a standing twist (without the forward bend), but haven’t yet begun. Before you move any further, imagine a spiraling coil of energy beginning below the floor (the Antarctic Circle) and traveling up the center. Notice how this mimics the girdle vessel. Now imagine the coils widening as they rise up from the base ( moving toward the equator), as the yang energy expands outward. The girdle vessel is very yang so this is quite natural. Feel the energetic volume expanding and condensing with the breath, but slowly expanding in overall volume

To awaken the front body-yin energy field, we can take the hoop forward to fully engage the arms and shoulders. Now imagine the hoops extends through the back body, receiving the rising spiral and expanding as the action of twisting. SBK_1711254-2SBK_1711254-9Most students eventually leave half of the body behind and end up contracting rather than expanding, especially along the spine column. Imagine the center of the spinal canal opening outward in an expanding circle/spiral, melting the tissue, feeling spaciousness, transcending the limitations of structure.SBK_1711254-4 (My front foot turns out much more than average to release the inner groin. Don’t feel you have to imitate this, but find out for yourself where openness and balance meet.) The hoop is moved to the front to expand the yin/organ/front body qi field and expand the ‘wings’ of the body, but also feel the back body softening and opening. This feeling can be evoked in sitting, lying and inverted twists as well. If you do not have a hula hoop handy, you can also use a thera-ball to find the volume.SBK_1711254-8


Another key component awakened here is the Pericardium 8 point, PC-8 (or P-8) in the center of the palms. Analagous to the K-1 points on the feet, P-8 is a gateway between the inner and outer qi fields. The SBK_1711254-11Pericardium, the fascial connective tissue membrane surrounding the heart, arises embryologically from the same cells and tissues that create the diaphragm and liver. The ‘heart protector’ literally does this, on many levels. As someone with a well-armored heart, I am finding that opening and nurturing the heart protector so that is does its job with over doing it is awakening a level of sweet vulnerability that is both precious and scary.

SBK_1711254-12In acupuncture, the pericardium meridian is part of the JueYin channel and connects all the way through the femoral canal to the legs. For those of you who have been practicing ‘climbing the wall’ for the last few years, you can actually trace the whole fascial continuity of the Jue Yin. (Use imagination to fill in the blanks.) Rise up from K-1 (not the heels, even though they do rise on their own) (DFL for those of you who know Tom Myers’ ‘Anatomy Trains’ system) to P-8, passing through liver, diaphragm and pericardium.

You can also track the qi from P-8 back into the body horizontally, again using the wall.SBK_1711254-14 Using the tip of the  middle finger of your other hand (PC-9) to feel the connections, trace the qi from the the wall and P-8 into the area around the pec minor muscle and then go inside the body to the pericardiam itself, along with the liver and diaphragm. Use the breath and your imagination. Then go back and try the twistings shown above with these new perceptions.

SBK_1711254-20To continue our building of a three dimensional perceptual qi field, we can return to the thera-ball to provide sensation and visualization. I like the feel of my third chakra having organ support, so I find placing the ball there and using a wall creates a powerful presence on the inside. Embryologically speaking, this is the extemely yin yolk sac which becomes the entire gut body. The conception vessel points on the micro-cosmic orbit are stimulated by the ball, bringing sensation and perception here. The liver comes from the yolk sac, so I can use this position to also find the Jue Yin channel we explored above. Lying SBK_1711254-19over the ball in a forward bend creates a similar feeling, with even more yielding and softening to the yang back body erector muscles. By moving the ball to the sternum, I can activate a new set of points on the conception vessel and engage the inner tissues surrounding the 4th chakra

If I want to build up my back field perception, I use the ball from behind and awaken sensation on the yang Governing Vessel.SBK_1711254-16 Here I have dropped it a bit lower to find the sacral-lumbar junction and here I can feel the possibility of both lumbar flexion and extension, from S curve to C curve and back.  The very important GV-4 Qi gong Image‘gate of vitality’ is here The inner abdominal space also opens and the front back and center plane begin to become conscious. This becomes trickier as you move upwards towards the liver. You can place the ball anywhere and feel different points coming alive. Feel their inner as well as outer presence. Back support can also help open the front. I haveSBK_1711254-17been trying to open my throat more for my sax sound and using the ball (or any elastic support) helps soften and melt tight tissue.

SBK_1711254-21Fish body support, opening some Gall Bladder Meridian points is another way to use the ball. I am using the wall, but this can be done on the floor as well, with slightly different effects. All of these ways of playing with the three dimensional field are ways of awakening and establishing a dynamic energetic field, centered in your heart, and radiating out throughout the whole of the cosmos. When you are out in Nature, feel this. When you are out and about in the human sphere, feel how you respond. It is fascinating to see what happens.

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